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Research Seminar: Immigration Federalism - Conceptualizing the Role of Constituent Units

On 27 April 2022, the VUB's Brussels Interdisciplinary Research centre for Migration and Minorities (BIRMM) and EDGE are welcoming Catherine Xhardez to talk about her research on the role of subnational units in immigration policymaking across different federal systems.



Ever increasingly, governments at the subnational level are responsible for and/or taking part (or aspire to do so) in immigration matters, although this policy area was traditionally tied to the central state as a matter of sovereignty. This involvement is a major shift in and challenge to immigration and federalism study alike. Immigration federalism broadly refers to the involvement of multiple levels of government in immigration matters in federal contexts (such as Canada, Belgium, the US, Australia, India, etc.). Scholars studying immigration federalism have demonstrated the importance of considering the engagement of as well as the relationships between different levels of government in immigration policymaking, while yielding significant insights on how the politics of immigration plays out in federations. Yet, the very role and involvement of constituent units (CU) in federal systems raises critical questions: How are subnational units involved in immigration policymaking? Have constituent units become less or more active in immigration matters? Pointing to the need for an in-depth study of the subnational level, I argue that autonomy and asymmetry are key principles in conceptualizing the role of constituent units in immigration federalism, both from a theoretical and empirical perspective. First, building on migration studies insights, I develop a conceptual framework to analyze constituent units’ role and involvement on five dimensions: selection, settlement, integration, enforcement, and citizenship. Second, to demonstrate the heuristic scope of this multidimensional framework, I empirically study the evolution of Canadian provinces’ involvement in immigration. More generally, my presentation shows that immigration is an increasingly important topic for federalism scholars and reciprocally that federal institutions must be taken seriously by immigration politics scholars



Discussant: Djordje Sredanovic, GERME - Université Libre de Bruxelles

Format: Hybrid 

Please register here to attend the seminar online

Please register here by Monday 25 April if you'd like to attend in-person

The research seminar will be followed by a light lunch at 12.30.

To support the presentation, a work-in-progress paper will be circulated a couple of days before the event to registered participants. If interested or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to 


Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 5, Floor -1, Rooms 'Rome' & 'Lisbon'
1050 Brussels
27 April 2022 from 11:00 to 12:30 Add to personal calendar

Organised by BIRMM & EDGE